Nova Scotia

'Red tide' in Halifax not cause for concern, says DFO

A red tinge in Halifax harbour this week is the result of a bloom of algae but experts say there's little cause for concern.

Algal bloom has turned water in Halifax harbour pink

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency monitors conditions and shellfish that might be affected by red tides. (CBC)

A red tinge in Halifax harbour this week is the result of a bloom of algae but experts say there’s little cause for concern.

The rust-coloured or pink water is what’s known as a red tide.

Bill Li, a microbiologist at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said the algal bloom is likely due to a combination of rain and recent warm weather.

Li said algae multiply when a fresh water layer sits on top of salt water.

"Usually we see massive blooms of this thing in the fall time," he said.

In other parts of the world, red tides have a more notorious reputation. They can contaminate shellfish and pose health risks to humans and wildlife.

Larry Beggs is tourist visting Halifax, he  lives on the Gulf Coast in Florida and is familiar with red tides.

"It's not a cause for concern unless it's really big and long lasting, then it kills the fish, turtles, everything else. Runs the tourists off the beaches," he said.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency monitors conditions and shellfish that might be affected by red tides.

But Li said he doesn't believe this one is toxic. 

"This red tide has not been proven to harmful in any way to either humans or fish but technically it's still a red tide because it forms a tide that is red in colour," he said.

Li said red tides typically don't last long. Once the water begins circulating, the red particles sink below the surface.

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